Comment on What is Racism? by Minlyn C

I thought a lot about your comment and I’m glad the websites had really clear data. Since blacks are more likely to resist arrest, it makes it harder for an officer to get charged for abuse. This is a little bit sidetracked, but I’ve also really wondered if different physiologies between races contribute to crime rates. For example, black people on average grow bigger and have higher physical ability (take a look at the NBA and the fastest sprinters). Does this mean the higher hormone levels contribute to different emotions or levels of aggression? Obviously, this topic will be potentially offensive if it’s not dealt with sensitively. Going back on topic, the data has been eye opening. Between the conservativeness of my church and family, and the progressiveness of school and friends, I feel like my political and social views have expanded a lot.

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Comment on Fire In the Tunnel – Finding Our Way Out of Syria by anney

This is very interesting, thank you for bringing it up. I totally agree and in any case like this sources become largely the most important aspect of understanding but can also be the least important. It is such a war not only physically but also electronically in the modern world for accurate information and as my dad says his dad told him when he was young “You can never trust anything you hear”, or at least not fully all of the time. When it becomes so difficult to obtain reliable information this can flip and become virtually the least important part of research and understanding. It becomes more about specifically that, personal understanding. I believe it becomes more important for each individual to develop their own opinion and put together what they believe based on multiple sources, as it is important to be informed. No one can ever know everything that is occurring in the entire world at one time, at least not yet, and that is why it becomes so difficult, but that is also what makes the world real.

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Comment on What is Racism? by bryanjack

Hi Minlyn, provocative post! I think you’ve jumped into a controversial debate with care and sensitivity to the volatility of the topic; you ask good questions, and there is a lot here to unpack. But I would like to push back against the idea that “racism isn’t one-sided” briefly.

According to the FBI’s most recent study of violence against law enforcement (which you can find here: https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/leoka/2014/officers-feloniously-killed), of the 59 alleged offenders in “felonious” officer deaths, “42 of the alleged offenders were white, 13 were black, 2 were American Indian/Alaska Native, 1 was Asian/Pacific Islander, and race was not reported for 1 offender.” However, despite white people killing more than three times as many police officers as African Americans, those same African Americans are more than three times as likely to be killed by police. Similarly, according to analysis conducted by WNYC, African Americans are “significantly more likely than white defendants to be additionally charged with resisting arrest” in most instances of street arrests (more here: http://www.wnyc.org/story/resisting-arrest-black-white/). While these statistics might suggest that racism may be more “one-sided” than an equilibrium, they are a slice of insight that supports your conclusion that “racism isn’t as simple as the majority hating the minority.”

When we look at the outcomes produced by such a system of law enforcement, racial intent or hatred takes a back seat to the overall effects of the system. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology explains its definition of this sort of systemic or institutional oppression thus:

“Relationships between groups and relationships between groups and social categories, should not be confused with the oppressive behaviour of individuals. A white man may not himself actively participate in oppressive behaviour directed at blacks or women, for example, but he nonetheless benefits from the general oppression of black and women simply because he is a white man. In this sense, all members of dominant and subordinate categories participate in social oppression regardless of their individual attitudes or behaviour. Social oppression becomes institutionalized when its enforcement is so of social life that it is not easily identified as oppression and does not require conscious prejudice or overt acts of discrimination.”

I might tend to agree with your sentiment that “Unfortunately, blaming the system for everything isn’t going to do anything,” but think there are steps that might be taken to help bend the system toward more just outcomes (not unlike Alyssa’s example of the blind auditions for the symphony: http://alyssat.talons43.ca/2016/03/07/turning-a-blind-eye-towards-discrimination/)

Not to say that I have any idea what those steps might be… but food for thought nonetheless!

Enjoy your evening, and where this thinking takes you,

Mr. J

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Comment on Fire In the Tunnel – Finding Our Way Out of Syria by bryanjack

Nicely summarized, Anne! You do a great job here of sharing a variety of perspective on the quagmire that is the western relationship with Syria (or at the least the tip of the iceberg!).

Something that I wanted to add is that the argument that one of the terrorists in Paris had arrived with Syrian refugees has (at last I heard) been refuted:

“French investigators fear that the apparent “planting” of the passport is part of a sophisticated propaganda war being waged by Isis. “There are three possibilities,” one source said. “He is the man whose name is on the passport. He was a false refugee, travelling on a false passport. Or he is someone else and a false passport was deliberately left there to sow confusion.”

“In all three cases, Isis appears to have set out to stoke popular anger against Syrian migrants as part of their campaign to foment anti-Muslim feeling.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/paris-terror-attacks-ahmed-almuhameds-passport-may-have-been-planted-by-terrorists-a6735476.html

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